We all know CEO salaries are much, much higher than ours, but a recent report shows exactly how much higher they are in Canada.
According to a CEO compensation report published this month by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the 100 highest CEO salaries in Canada in 2018 were 227 times higher than that of the average worker.
In addition, that disparity increased from 2017, when Canadian CEOs made 197 times more than average workers.
You may take that as a sign that things are trending in the wrong direction, and the CCPA would agree. In the report, the CCPA concluded that the disparity is “growing larger and more difficult to rationalize with each passing year.”
“Canadian companies are earning money and seeing profits, even in this period of relatively slow growth, but that money is not reaching workers. Instead, wealth continues to concentrate at the very top while average incomes are barely keeping up with inflation.”
CEO Salaries In Canada
Highest on the list was John Chen, CEO of Blackberry, who received $141,982,741 in total compensation in 2018, although $137,732,910 of that was from shares he owned in the company.
The executives of Hudson’s Bay, Magna International, Nutrien, and Restaurant Brands rounded out the top five, the only five CEOs in Canada who received over $24 million in total compensation.
All the CEOs in the top five, however, had base salaries under $1.6 million, with a significant chunk of the compensation they received coming from shared-based awards (company shares they owned or were awarded) and “non-equity incentive plan compensation” (bonuses).
The President and CEO of Power Financial Corp, R. Jeffrey Orr, had the highest base salary, at $4,661,000. The lowest base salary on the list was that of Executive Chair of Ensign Energy Services/Canadian Natural Resources, at $1. (He received over $12 million in total compensation.)
When it comes to high CEO salaries, British Columbians often point to TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond, but Desmond did not make it into the list of the 100 highest CEO salaries in Canada.
A new compensation plan for TransLink executives was approved in 2019, to much criticism. That plan set TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond’s base salary at a minimum of $406,634 and a maximum of $517,000. The higher end of that range would result in Desmond having a higher base salary than 9 of the 100 CEOs on the CCPA’s list.
This comes in contrast to the wages of the bus drivers and SkyTrain workers in Metro Vancouver, which were central to labour disputes for both unions in late-November.
Following resolution of the disputes, Unifor, the union representing bus drivers, revealed that the wage increases they won would translate into “immediate wage gains of 98 cents per hour.”
Similarly, following a near full shutdown of SkyTrain services, CUPE 7000 revealed that they had secured a 3% annual wage increase. An examination of the union’s previous contract revealed that the highest employee wage was under $50.
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